Categories
Just Shelley

The Art of Books: The cut and what you can afford to lose

I use an Exacta knife when cutting paper or dense cloth, but this won’t work with thicker materials such as gray or book board. This board is very thick and dense for strength, and normally you would use a special paper cutter or have the art shop cut the board into pieces for you. However, both techniques require money, so I buy my board either as scrap or in whole sheets, and then attempt to cut it with a box cutter knife.

I do okay with the larger pieces (they are covered, after all), but can’t seem to get the small cuts down. For instance, the Japanese stab binding requires that you cut a thin strip 1/8 inch wide off of one of the pieces for the cover, to allow for the book fold (you don’t fold the book at the spine with this type of binding). Cutting a strip 1/8 inch wide sounds easy–but it isn’t. I’ve ruined four cuttings already this weekend, and have accomplished little other than creating some nice scrap for small case bound journals.

Among the lessons I’ve learned is that when cutting, commit to the cut. You can’t stop every centimeter or so to check your progress when cutting thick board. If you do, instead of one straight line and two cleanly divided boards, you end up with several short, hesitant stabs and the resulting separation looks more like an act of luck than an act of precision.

In some ways, it’s rather like posting your writing or poetry or photos–if you don’t have confidence in your work before putting it online, you’re not going to find it, incrementally, from your readers’ reactions. Base your joy in your work on the approval of others, and your art will soon reflect the cut I just mentioned.

What a seemingly odd analogy, but it came to mind this morning during ruminations while I created yet another potential case book board. I realized that there is much of a sameness between the commonsense ‘rules’ of bookbinding and the commonsense ‘rules’ of our online efforts. Don’t cut what you can’t afford to lose can easily be rephrased to don’t post what you can’t afford to lose.

For instance, I don’t go into the art supply place and grab any old board and just start hacking away because the boards aren’t mine to hack. The same can be said of the personal lives of others, and you don’t post about friends and family, especially their private lives, without their concurrence–not unless you’re willing to lose them. I would think this goes without saying, and no one ever said free speech was free as in lunch or beer and not without cost.

This medium inspires a false intimacy, but you’re not going to want to post about your deepest thoughts and fears, or your innermost secrets because once they’re out there, everybody, and I mean everybody is going to know about them and probably even giggle about them over Big Macs at a WIFI enabled McDonald’s somewhere. This world is about six degrees of separation and there are six degrees of separation between the importance you attach to your thoughts and what a reader attaches to your ramblings; you’re cutting a single piece of board, they’re cutting six at a time, and the results will vary.

You’ll also want to be sparing with your rants, as well as cautious about posting your strongly held beliefs or opinions online–not unless you can afford to lose the right to change your mind. We all know that circumstances and experience can lead to growth and growth can lead to change, but reflect this change online and you’ll be hit with a chorus of, “But you said…you said…you said…but you said…you said…you said…”

It reminds me of the glues I use when creating a book: PVA glue bonds quickly and permanently and is intolerant to change, while slow bonding organics such as wheat starch paste give you the flexibility of being able to reposition the papers or boards if you find you made a mistake.

Life may be wheat starch paste, but webloggers are PVA.

Glue and cuts. Ultimately, the quality of the book transcends the cut and the glue, and reflects the materials used. All things have a purpose, and you can’t always use one thing as substitute for another not without risk. In bookbinding, you don’t use spit for glue, tooth floss for thread, and gray board works great as a hardcover material for a book, but I wouldn’t want to build a bridge of it.

Weblogging is the same; you can record your life in these pages, but you can’t find it here.

Speaking of which, both life and book board beckon.

Categories
Just Shelley Weblogging

The Art of Books: Bookbinding and disappointment

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I had a call tonight. All the person said on the line was, ‘You are nothing’, and then hung up. Odd sort of call for a crank.

It came when I was in the middle of cutting more paper for another one of the books I’m making. Each of these books is a gift for someone who is important to me, someone I care for. I’ll post a photo of all the books when finished, though the going is slow.

Some aspects of the bookbinding have been a surprise and delight for me. For instance, I’ve found that I’m quite good at cutting things out–even things that are complex and curvy. Though I had a slight accident when I was putting the exacto knife blade into it’s piece of protective cardboard and pushed through it into my finger, I am, shall we say, to the knife born.

In addition, the primary component of one of the star tunnel books has also come out extraordinarily well; I can only hope the rest of the book falls in line. The Japanese stab binding books are extremely satisfying in their elegance and simplicity; with their colorful covers, intricate knots, and handmade papers.

A couple of the projects, though, have not gone as expected. It’s not that they don’t match my mental expectations; it’s that when they are real, they aren’t what I was hoping to achieve. Disappointing that, but I think that all good craft work results in disappointment from time to time.

Working on the books provides something I’ve been missing in my life–a tactile contact that I don’t have with other activities. What I particularly like about working on the books is that I can attach part of my mind to the task at hand, but the rest is free to roam, to think on other things. I can’t do this when I’m working on the computer, nor when I’m on most of the trails I hike, either (that’s a good way to end up with a broken ankle).

Today while working, I found myself thinking, oddly enough, about the weblogger known only as Invisible Adjunct. She’s been on my mind ever since I read her decision to not only quit her weblog, but also the profession she had been working towards for a long time–a tenure track position at a university. I thought about her disappointment, which must be acute; but I was also taken by the grace she exhibited when she wrote about her decisions:

A few months ago, I made a vow to myself that this would be my last semester as an invisible adjunct. Since I’ve failed to secure a full-time position in my final attempt at the academic job market, what this means, of course, is that I made a vow to leave the academy. Six more weeks of teaching, and I head for the nearest exit.

Though I must inevitably feel a sense of loss and sadness, it’s thanks to this blog and its readers that I don’t feel the kind of life-twisting bitterness that I might otherwise have experienced. I’ll take with me, among other things, a knowledge of XHTML (which I never thought I could learn!), an undiminished passion for the Scottish Enlightenment, and a heightened sense of life’s possibilities.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to give up the blog.

Simple words expressing a profound message. It was the nature of her writing that made her words that much more piquant and feeling and even though I’ve never been a reader of hers, I felt a deep and personal connection with her–all through her elegant acceptance of her disappointment.

I know some may not agree with me–Invisible Adjunct’s words are seen as a cry to arms, to kindle anger at the academic establishment that fosters the heartbreak of so many. I can also imagine the loss that IA is experiencing, having myself lost a career built up over 20 years. But Invisible Adjunct showed that there is a beauty in disappointment; that it can be a way of stripping away one more layer of the wants and needs we wrap about ourselves; leaving the core essence of what we are, separate from what we want to be. Or, as she eloquently put it, what remains is …a heightened sense of life’s possibilities.

This afternoon, out walking on a familiar trail where I can safely let my mind wander, I thought more about disappointment, and how it can be shallow and slight, such as the minor disappointments we suffer growing up; or it can be deeply altering, such as that which Invisible Adjunct embraced.

The shallow disappointments, the present not received, the trip not taken, the treat denied, are minor and trite and soon forgotten unless we ourselves bring them up in a burst of pettiness. You know what I mean–the anger at spouse or parent when you regress to that young inner child and pettishly say, “But you didn’t get me that doll”, or, “But you didn’t get me that coat I wanted.” Getting caught up in these slight acts makes us as small as the act, and the wise person quickly purges them from memory so as not to waste time in an infantile state.

“You promised!” You promised! You promised!

The larger disappointments, though, they’re different. Having to leave a beloved career, as Invisible Adjunct did; discovering that a long held hope will not be realized; being deeply in love with someone who is attracted to another; a wished for pregnancy that turns out to be a false alarm–these are emotionally significant disappointments, and they shape us in small ways and large, though we may not know it when the event occurs, and may not cherish it until later. Much later.

Disappointment is not grief, though grief can also have its own beauty, a darker beauty like watching the moonlight reflect on the wings of a moth in the darkest hour of the night. Unlike disappointment, grief never ends. It may become less real over time and the sharp edges dull, and we may become better because of it–but it never leaves.

No, living through a profound disappoint is like being sick, for a very long time, and then gradually getting well again. The experience isn’t pleasant, and may even be frightening because you wonder if you will recover; but then there’s that moment when you wake and you feel better. You rise, and take your first steps away from your bed, lightheaded, as if you’re not quite anchored to earth.

I have this mental image of a person who has suffered through a profound disappointment. I see them as a figure wearing a cloak of soft, sad grey; gradually, over time, they drop the heavy cloak and underneath is …

Categories
Just Shelley Weblogging

The Art of Books: Bookbinding and disappointment

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I had a call tonight. All the person said on the line was, ‘You are nothing’, and then hung up. Odd sort of call for a crank.

It came when I was in the middle of cutting more paper for another one of the books I’m making. Each of these books is a gift for someone who is important to me, someone I care for. I’ll post a photo of all the books when finished, though the going is slow.

Some aspects of the bookbinding have been a surprise and delight for me. For instance, I’ve found that I’m quite good at cutting things out–even things that are complex and curvy. Though I had a slight accident when I was putting the exacto knife blade into it’s piece of protective cardboard and pushed through it into my finger, I am, shall we say, to the knife born.

In addition, the primary component of one of the star tunnel books has also come out extraordinarily well; I can only hope the rest of the book falls in line. The Japanese stab binding books are extremely satisfying in their elegance and simplicity; with their colorful covers, intricate knots, and handmade papers.

A couple of the projects, though, have not gone as expected. It’s not that they don’t match my mental expectations; it’s that when they are real, they aren’t what I was hoping to achieve. Disappointing that, but I think that all good craft work results in disappointment from time to time.

Working on the books provides something I’ve been missing in my life–a tactile contact that I don’t have with other activities. What I particularly like about working on the books is that I can attach part of my mind to the task at hand, but the rest is free to roam, to think on other things. I can’t do this when I’m working on the computer, nor when I’m on most of the trails I hike, either (that’s a good way to end up with a broken ankle).

Today while working, I found myself thinking, oddly enough, about the weblogger known only as Invisible Adjunct. She’s been on my mind ever since I read her decision to not only quit her weblog, but also the profession she had been working towards for a long time–a tenure track position at a university. I thought about her disappointment, which must be acute; but I was also taken by the grace she exhibited when she wrote about her decisions:

A few months ago, I made a vow to myself that this would be my last semester as an invisible adjunct. Since I’ve failed to secure a full-time position in my final attempt at the academic job market, what this means, of course, is that I made a vow to leave the academy. Six more weeks of teaching, and I head for the nearest exit.

Though I must inevitably feel a sense of loss and sadness, it’s thanks to this blog and its readers that I don’t feel the kind of life-twisting bitterness that I might otherwise have experienced. I’ll take with me, among other things, a knowledge of XHTML (which I never thought I could learn!), an undiminished passion for the Scottish Enlightenment, and a heightened sense of life’s possibilities.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to give up the blog.

Simple words expressing a profound message. It was the nature of her writing that made her words that much more piquant and feeling and even though I’ve never been a reader of hers, I felt a deep and personal connection with her–all through her elegant acceptance of her disappointment.

I know some may not agree with me–Invisible Adjunct’s words are seen as a cry to arms, to kindle anger at the academic establishment that fosters the heartbreak of so many. I can also imagine the loss that IA is experiencing, having myself lost a career built up over 20 years. But Invisible Adjunct showed that there is a beauty in disappointment; that it can be a way of stripping away one more layer of the wants and needs we wrap about ourselves; leaving the core essence of what we are, separate from what we want to be. Or, as she eloquently put it, what remains is …a heightened sense of life’s possibilities.

This afternoon, out walking on a familiar trail where I can safely let my mind wander, I thought more about disappointment, and how it can be shallow and slight, such as the minor disappointments we suffer growing up; or it can be deeply altering, such as that which Invisible Adjunct embraced.

The shallow disappointments, the present not received, the trip not taken, the treat denied, are minor and trite and soon forgotten unless we ourselves bring them up in a burst of pettiness. You know what I mean–the anger at spouse or parent when you regress to that young inner child and pettishly say, “But you didn’t get me that doll”, or, “But you didn’t get me that coat I wanted.” Getting caught up in these slight acts makes us as small as the act, and the wise person quickly purges them from memory so as not to waste time in an infantile state.

“You promised!” You promised! You promised!

The larger disappointments, though, they’re different. Having to leave a beloved career, as Invisible Adjunct did; discovering that a long held hope will not be realized; being deeply in love with someone who is attracted to another; a wished for pregnancy that turns out to be a false alarm–these are emotionally significant disappointments, and they shape us in small ways and large, though we may not know it when the event occurs, and may not cherish it until later. Much later.

Disappointment is not grief, though grief can also have its own beauty, a darker beauty like watching the moonlight reflect on the wings of a moth in the darkest hour of the night. Unlike disappointment, grief never ends. It may become less real over time and the sharp edges dull, and we may become better because of it–but it never leaves.

No, living through a profound disappoint is like being sick, for a very long time, and then gradually getting well again. The experience isn’t pleasant, and may even be frightening because you wonder if you will recover; but then there’s that moment when you wake and you feel better. You rise, and take your first steps away from your bed, lightheaded, as if you’re not quite anchored to earth.

I have this mental image of a person who has suffered through a profound disappointment. I see them as a figure wearing a cloak of soft, sad grey; gradually, over time, they drop the heavy cloak and underneath is …